The Verge, May 23, 2014: Radioactive kitty litter may have ruined our best hope to store nuclear waste; Billions invested in an underground New Mexico repository could be wasted [...] The most dangerous nuclear waste in the US is currently scattered between 77 locations all over the country, awaiting permanent storage. Until February, many experts suggested that the best place to put it was [WIPP...] two emergencies brought that suggestion – and WIPP’s future – into question. [...] The damage and the resulting radiation leak could close the facility, experts say. [...] the real lesson here may lie in the fragility of even the best nuclear storage facility. Corrective action at WIPP could be a massive undertaking. How many other barrels contain the dangerous organic cat litter? Are all of those barrels underground at WIPP? [...] if the DOE decides stabilizing or repackaging the material is unjustified, that would close WIPP for good.
Per Peterson, UC Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering: “Expert assessment will be needed [to] determine whether the safety benefits of stabilizing or repackaging the material in these drums are justified by the risk to personnel who would attempt to do this work.”
Norbert T. Rempe, PhD, former WIPP principal engineer for decades: “If [WIPP permanently closed], it would be a shame and a disaster [...] we have no idea how long this will take until WIPP is back to normal operations, or what the new normal operations will be [...] No one knows right now. And it could be a long time before anyone knows.”
Jim Conca, writer at Forbes, geologist who worked for years at WIPP: “It could shut down the most successful nuclear repository in history.”
NPR, May 23, 2014: Organic litter is [...] is full of chemical compounds that can react with the nuclear waste. “They actually are just fuel, and so they’re the wrong thing to add,” [Conca] says.
Ryan Flynn, New Mexico’s secretary of the environment: It is clear that the wrong material went into some of the drums. [...] “Ultimately [the waste is] the responsibility of the Department of Energy. It’s also now their responsibility to clean it up and fix it.”
Carlsbad Current Argus, May 23, 2014: More than 350 barrels of waste containing the suspect chemical mixture are currently stored at WIPP
Published: May 23rd, 2014 at 8:27 pm ET
- Officials now admit over 500 barrels of nuclear waste at risk of bursting open — AP: 368 already at WIPP dump — “New Mexico sees ‘imminent’ danger” — State orders WIPP to prevent “health or environmental threat”; Must ‘permanently seal’ underground storage areas May 21, 2014
- ‘Kitty litter’ blamed for explosive nuclear leak at WIPP — “Incredibly important to act quickly” — ‘All these drums’ are at risk, including at other sites — Must be gathered ‘right away’ before they also burst — Summer heat will increase instability — Storage rooms must be sealed off to contain future ‘events’ May 10, 2014
- Expert: ‘Cracked’ nuclear container “blew top off” at WIPP — Hundreds more drums at dump risk ‘energetic reaction’ and radiation release — Insider: Get forklift and remove them before another accident — Official: No ‘imminent’ public threat ‘at this time’ (VIDEO) May 19, 2014
- New emails reveal concern over plutonium chain reaction in WIPP containers — “There shouldn’t be a ‘significant’ reaction… criticality safety issues are not my area of expertise” — “Significant amount of plutonium” — No mention of kitty litter May 29, 2014
- TV: US Senators want federal agents near WIPP to check if safe; “A lot more people could have been hurt a lot worse” — Public “skeptical whole truth about environmental risks shared” — Report: “It will shut WIPP down for a year or more, and now everyone is talking about maybe WIPP is no good” (VIDEO) March 27, 2014